Friday, March 23, 2012

The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors

Emmaline was cast away at birth because of a deformed foot. Miraculously saved by a group of cows Emmaline has had a special relationship with them since her birth. An outcast among her people the dirt-scratchers of Root it seems that Emmaline's only friends are the cows.

Tragedy strikes Root when soldiers come and take all of the single men away. They are told they are being taken to fight in a war, but what is really happening is they are enslaved to dig in pits for gold to line the kings pockets. While the king and queen of Anglun live in splendor their people are starving. Taxes are continually raised to support the king and queen with no regard for the people that are serving them.

When a flood washes the village of Root away Emmaline is once again saved by a cow. Owen Oak finds her along the banks of a river with one of his family's dairy cows standing watch over her. His family help her back to health and provide for her. Owen and Emmaline find that she has the power to churn cream into chocolate. Chocolate is the stuff of legends among the people of Anglun. Emmaline hopes to use her gift to rescue her people from the pits that the king has put them in. Before she can do that though she is kidnapped by Peddler for his own gain.

Peddler hopes to sell Emmaline for his own profit. Fearing that Owen is dead, Emmaline doesn't stop trying to find a way to escape Peddler so she can go to the king and queen to negotiate the return of her people. What she finds though is that they too will stop at nothing to be in control of the chocolate that only Emmaline seems to be able to make.

This story is a retelling of The Ugly Duckling which I have never read so I don't know how it compares. This was a sweet story of one girl who rises above her own disability in order to save her country and become beloved by all. I enjoyed it very much.

I received my copy at ALA in January. The book will be published in August of 2012.

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